Eye health a priority before heading back to school - Education Matters Magazine
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Eye health a priority before heading back to school

instructional leadership in schools John Fischetti

Optometry Australia is urging parents to get their children’s eye’s tested before heading back to the classroom.

At the end of the month, one in five children will head back to school with an undetected vision problem, despite the majority (79 per cent) of Australian parents believing their children have great eyesight.

Luke Arundel from Optometry Australia said it’s important for parents to take their children for a routine eye examination before heading back to school to give kids the best chance at success in the classroom.

“Good vision is vital to the educational, social, behavioural and physical development of a child. From having trouble reading something on the whiteboard or avoiding reading as getting sore or tired eyes from close work, there are a range of ways vision problems can impact learning. Poor vision can also make it difficult to read other kids facial expressions or do fun things like catch a ball and play sports,” Arundel said.

“When a child has a vision problem, they may not tell a parent as they often assume everyone else sees the world the way they do. The best way parents can ensure there’s nothing wrong with their child’s vision is to have a simple, painless, Medicare rebatable check-up at the optometrist.”

Arundel further highlighted that signs of vision problems in children include: difficulty reading, such as skipping and confusing works or holding a book close when reading; complaints of headaches or blurred vision; and squinting and having difficulty recognising things or pimple in the distance.

In addition, parents are also being reminded that it’s not just inside the classroom where eyesight is impacted. Children exposed to UV radiation in the playground are at risk of short-term irritation and long-term eye damage.

Almost one in 10 Australians do not know UV protective sunglasses exist, whilst 30 per cent believe they are unnecessary 4 , suggesting a need for greater awareness of the risk UV rays poses to eye health.

David Whetton from School Shades, an organisation distributing UV protective sunglasses to schools across Australia, says many parents are unaware that our eyes are just as susceptible to sunburn as our skin. “In Australia, we are exposed to some of the highest levels of UV in the world and kids’ eyes are much more vulnerable to UV rays than adults,” Whetton said.

“As the new school term begins, now is the time for parents to understand that protecting their child’s eyes with sunglasses is just as important as wearing a hat and sunscreen in the middle of summer.”